Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Meridee Danks


Pressure Ulcer -- diagnosis; Pressure Ulcer -- prevention and control


Elderly people who spend multiple hours in a wheelchair are prone to skin breakdown of the buttock and leg regions. Pressure relief of these areas can help prevent skin breakdown and can be achieved through the use of a wheelchair cushion, weight shifting, and positioning. Strategies for effective pressure relief can be found for individuals by utilizing pressure-mapping technology.

The purpose of this study was to identify if elderly wheelchair-dependent nursing home residents (n = 6) had adequate pressure relief of the buttock and leg regions. Pressures at the buttock and leg regions were measured with the FSA Pressure-Mapping device under four conditions: the currently utilized cushion and air, gel, and honeycomb cushions. In addition, patient education with the residents addressed weight-shifting techniques and proper wheelchair positioning.

For the six subjects, there was no significant difference in pressure relief across the four pressure-reliving cushions tested. Graphing of the results demonstrated that individuals responded differently to the various cushions. Thus, the pressure-mapping device was helpful in identifying the cushion providing the best pressure relief for each individual subject and subjectively helped in identifying effective weight-shifting techniques and proper positioning in the wheelchair. Further research is needed to assess the long-term effectiveness of a pressure-mapping device for the prescription of wheelchair cushions and pressure-relief education in a nursing home setting.